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Research Shows Review Scores Do Matter, Mature Titles Sell Best

by Rainier on Sept. 10, 2007 @ 6:25 p.m. PDT

Electronic Entertainment Design and Research has released research data which measures to-date success of the latest generation of consoles, looks at the significance of online functionalities and other market factors such as the correlation between game review scores and retail success.

The new study, Console Intelligence Brief 2007, examines the range of new business opportunities for developers and publishers that the latest generation of video game console hardware has created. Connectivity has opened up meaningful social interactions with other players which increases audience, brand strength and game longevity for titles that have online features. Digital storefronts for latest generation consoles are providing a means of further monetizing game libraries, including older games, to the audience.

For next generation console games, the critics’ favorite list and the blockbuster charts have a lot in common, with highly rated titles selling up to five times better than titles with lower scoring reviews.

“In the increasingly expensive and risk averse publishing environment, understanding the market and a better knowledge of the features that resonate with your customers can help game makers use their creativity to develop titles with blockbuster sales potential,” Geoffrey Zatkin, COO, EEDAR, said. “EEDAR's mission is to help publishers and developers make informed decisions about how to build games and market them. We stress hard facts and ease of readability in all our reports and services; good data means nothing if you can’t understand it.”

The report examines the Sony® PlayStation®3, Nintendo® Wii™ and Microsoft® Xbox 360™ since each consoles’ release through June 1, 2007.

After analyzing the 219 retail and 187 downloadable games made available on these new platforms for factors such as genre, ESRB rating, gross sales in the United States, Metacritic scores, online functionalities, multiplayer capability and other core game features, the report contains a comprehensive and eye-opening account of current market conditions.

Sample findings include:

  • Despite online connectivity being a big marketing aspect for these new consoles, 45% of retail games are not utilizing it in any way. 98% of Nintendo Wii games have no online functionality at all.
  • Mature rated titles, comprising 10% of all US retail games examined, have both the highest average Metacritic scores and the highest average gross sales in the United States. This is despite not being offered for sale at some major retailers.
  • Games which achieved a Metacritic score above 90 grossed sales up to 531% more than the industry average, but were less than 2% of all titles released.
  • The Action genre is the most prevalent in the market at 24% of all available titles, through the Shooter genre has the highest gross sales.
  • The Nintendo Wii released more than twice the number of retail and downloadable game titles than either the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 during the first 7 months each platform’s launch.

The comprehensive report also includes a full listing of all retail and downloadable games for the period, along with an industry summary and detailed analysis of each console and its available game titles, performance metrics and market position.

EEDAR gathers its information from a variety of sources. Where information is publicly available from an authoritative source, such as the issuer or the responsible industry agency, that data is used as authoritative. All authoritative information is then double checked by an EEDAR researcher through direct observation or by cross referencing the data with other authoritative sources.

Where information is not publicly available, EEDAR's internal staff performs directed studies to gather the appropriate data. Each researched fact has an objective observation system which ensures that researcher bias is eliminated. Our data research is performed by multiple researchers simultaneously to ensure that individual facts are crosschecked before being input into the classification system established for that fact. Once information has been entered in the EEDAR Games Database, quality assurance staff review the data using boundary analysis tools to identify errors and pinpoint difficulties in the classification systems. Our quality assurance team maintains rigorous performance metrics and ensures that each report is validated to the highest quality standards.

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